Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a ruling yesterday that labelled daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites such as Draft Kings and FanDuel as gambling sites and banned Illinois residents from participating in DFS.

This latest ruling is yet another devastating blow to an industry that was flying high four months ago, but has been mired in controversy of late.

In legal terms, Madigan’s decision wasn’t particularly complicated. Under Illinois law, all forms of gambling are banned, whether they involve skill or not. Their definition hinges more on the fact that something of value is being offered as a prize.

But splitting hairs over whether DFS is a game of chance or skill isn’t going to help the beleaguered DFS industry, which is facing similar actions from attorney generals and gaming boards across the country.

In a press release, a Draft Kings spokesman panned the ruling suggesting that the AG return the people of Illinois’ god-given right to DFS saying:

So why the Attorney General would tell her 13.5 million constituents they can’t play fantasy sports anymore as they know it — and make no mistake, her opinion bans all forms of fantasy sports played for money — is beyond us. Hopefully the legislature will give back to the people of Illinois the games they love. A sports town like Chicago and a sports-loving state like Illinois deserves nothing less.

This last statement does point out what the DFS industry knows is their only chance at a viable model for success in the US, legislative action. Unfortunately, that legislative action would be better if it came from the federal government and that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

Until then, the DFS business will likely be stuck coming up with a state-by-state solution to their regulatory headaches.


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